Johannesburg - Top tips for beginner gardeners

l Keep a garden journal. It takes the guesswork out of when to sow seed and plant shrubs, what flowers when and for how long. Botanical illustrator Daphne Mackie has produced the beautiful Kirstenbosch Journal (Random Struik). Decorated with glorious African wild flowers, the 100-page journal is designed exactly for this purpose.

l What could be more practical than pots of colourful nasturtiums and culinary herbs grouped near the kitchen door? Pots are also useful for growing succulents that require excellent drainage, or for confining vigorous growers such as bamboos and mint.

l Introducing water in some form can enhance the mood of a garden. The sound of water spilling from a fountain is not only soothing, it also helps to mask noise from traffic and neighbours.

l Plants of differing structure and texture are essential in a garden to create year-round interest. Don’t think because the garden is small that it automatically follows that plants must also be small. By introducing bold foliage and strong vertical forms you will create a better balance.

l With so much vibrant colour at this time of year, it makes a pleasant change to include white flowers such as agapanthus, gaura, hydrangea, marguerite daisy, Shasta daisy, galtonia and summer-flowering watsonia.

l Compacted soil prevents water from penetrating down to the root area. Either improve drainage by loosening with a fork and incorporating compost, or convert this area into a garden for moisture-loving plants.

l Avoid damage from summer storms by thinning out some branches on top-heavy trees. This allows the wind to pass through more easily. - Saturday Star